RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/03/2020

                                        Friday, April 3, 2020

Kocharian Discharged From Hospital

        • Naira Bulghadarian
        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian arrives for a court hearing, 
Yerevan, February 18, 2020.

Robert Kocharian, Armenia’s former president standing trial on coup charges, was 
taken back to prison on Friday after spending more than three weeks in hospital.

Kocharian was taken to the Erebuni Medical Center in Yerevan on March 9. His 
spokesman said at the time that he is suffering from blood pressure fluctuations 
and needs a thorough medical examination.

According to one of Kocharian’s lawyers, Hovannes Khudoyan, Erebuni’s doctors 
have improved the ex-president’s condition but believe that he needs to undergo 
further treatment and remain under medical surveillance.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Khudoyan claimed that his client will 
risk being infected with coronavirus at Yerevan’s Kentron prison where he has 
been kept, on and off, since July 2018. This is another reason why Kocharian, 
who already underwent surgery in another hospital last year, should be released 
from custody, said the lawyer.

Khudoyan noted in that regard five members of the administration of another 
Yerevan prison, Vartashen, tested positive for coronavirus this week.

The Armenian Justice Ministry reported on Thursday that 28 other prison guards 
at Vartashen were placed under quarantine because of that. A ministry 
spokeswoman, Lusine Martirosian, said on Friday that none of them has tested 
positive for the virus.

The ministry, which runs Armenia’s penitentiary system, maintains that none of 
the infected guards had come into contact with prison inmates.

Martirosian stood by its earlier assurances that authorities are doing their 
best to prevent coronavirus cases among prisoners. She said the precautionary 
measures include regular monitoring of their health condition and a ban on 
visits from their relatives and friends imposed on March 13.

Kocharian, 65, as well as his former chief of staff and two retired army 
generals went on trial last year on coup charges mostly stemming from the 2008 
post-election unrest in Yerevan. The ex-president, who ruled Armenia from 
1998-2008, was also charged with bribe-taking a year ago. He rejects all 
accusations as politically motivated.

The judge presiding over the high-profile trial, Anna Danibekian, has repeatedly 
refused to free Kocharian pending a verdict in the case.

Danibekian was due to consider a written appeal for his release, signed by three 
former Armenian prime ministers, during a court hearing scheduled for March 17. 
The hearing was postponed because of her illness. It is still not clear when the 
trial will resume.




Armenian Authorities Expect Near-Zero Growth In 2020

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia -- Police officers enforcing a coronavirus lockdown check cars leaving 
Yerevan, April 1, 2020.

Economic growth in Armenia will practically grind to a halt this year due to the 
coronavirus pandemic, Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian said on Friday.

The Armenian economy grew by 7.6 percent last year and continued to expand 
robustly in the first two months of this year. However, the situation changed 
dramatically last month as the government put the country under lockdown to 
fight against the spread of coronavirus. With the number of coronavirus cases 
continuing to rise, the economic shutdown is expected to continue in the weeks 
ahead.

In a report released earlier this week, the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) 
forecast a 0.7 percent GDP growth rate for 2020.

Khachatrian agreed with this projection. “This year our economic indicators will 
be substantially down from what was forecast early this year,” he told a news 
conference.

The minister argued that the Armenian economy will also be affected by 
coronavirus-related economic disruptions in other countries and Russia in 
particular. Russia is Armenia’s main export market and the principal sources of 
remittances from Armenians working abroad.


Armenia -- Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian at a news conference in Yerevan, 
April 4, 2020.

Khachatrian insisted at the same time that Armenia will quickly recover once the 
global health crisis is over. “Despite the difficulties of 2020 we will quickly 
restore our economic activity and potential,” he said.

The CBA report says that economic growth in the country will accelerate to 7.2 
percent already in 2021.

The Armenian government approved last week a multimillion-dollar stimulus 
package designed to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic on 
businesses and ordinary people. The plan makes most Armenian firms as well as 
farmers eligible for financial assistance or credit subsidies.

In particular, creditworthy firms and individual entrepreneurs will receive 
grants worth $500 million ($1 million) if they pledge to use that money to pay 
their workers’ wages, buy equipment or raw materials or pay taxes. The scheme 
will not apply to Armenian banks, insurance companies and casinos. The 
government will instead subsidize the banks to provide cheap credit to farmers 
across the country.




World Bank To Also Help Armenia Fight Coronavirus


Armenia -- An ambulance leaves the Nork Infectious Disease Hospital, Yerevan, 
March 20, 2020.

The World Bank said on Friday that it will give Armenia $3 million to acquire 
medical equipment and supplies needed for containing the spread of coronavirus 
in the country.

The bank said nearly half of the assistance requested by the Armenian Ministry 
of Health will be spent on buying 50 lung ventilation devices used for 
lifesaving treatment of people infected with coronavirus. The ministry will also 
obtain protective personal equipment for healthcare workers, it said in a 
statement.

“The equipment will be procured directly through United Nations agencies’ supply 
channels in view of the current constraints for these types of medical emergency 
equipment in the global market,” read the statement.

“I would like to recognize the unprecedented dedication of health professionals 
in Armenia to protect the people,” it quoted Sylvie Bossoutrot, the head of the 
World Bank office in Yerevan, as saying.

“I would also like to strongly encourage each citizen of Armenia to strictly 
abide by the requirements of these emergency times and observe social distancing 
and isolation measures aimed at minimizing the impact of the pandemic,” added 
Bossoutrot.

The World Bank, which is Armenia’s number one foreign lender, also expressed 
readiness to provide additional coronavirus-related assistance to Yerevan. It 
would be provided at the expense of other projects which were due to be financed 
in Armenia by the Washington-based development bank.

The announcement came the day after the European Union promised 51 million euros 
($55 million) in assistance designed to help the Armenian government deal with 
not only the coronavirus epidemic but also its severe socioeconomic consequences.

The United States allocated last week more than $1 million in similar aid to 
Armenia. The South Caucasus state has also received medical supplies from Russia 
and China.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Friday morning that the total number 
of coronavirus cases in the country rose by over 10 percent to 736 in the past 
24 hours. According to the ministry, three more people died of COVID-19 on 
Thursday, raising to 7 the national death toll from the virus.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 


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RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/03/2020

                                        Friday, April 3, 2020

Kocharian Discharged From Hospital

        • Naira Bulghadarian
        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian arrives for a court hearing, 
Yerevan, February 18, 2020.

Robert Kocharian, Armenia’s former president standing trial on coup charges, was 
taken back to prison on Friday after spending more than three weeks in hospital.

Kocharian was taken to the Erebuni Medical Center in Yerevan on March 9. His 
spokesman said at the time that he is suffering from blood pressure fluctuations 
and needs a thorough medical examination.

According to one of Kocharian’s lawyers, Hovannes Khudoyan, Erebuni’s doctors 
have improved the ex-president’s condition but believe that he needs to undergo 
further treatment and remain under medical surveillance.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Khudoyan claimed that his client will 
risk being infected with coronavirus at Yerevan’s Kentron prison where he has 
been kept, on and off, since July 2018. This is another reason why Kocharian, 
who already underwent surgery in another hospital last year, should be released 
from custody, said the lawyer.

Khudoyan noted in that regard five members of the administration of another 
Yerevan prison, Vartashen, tested positive for coronavirus this week.

The Armenian Justice Ministry reported on Thursday that 28 other prison guards 
at Vartashen were placed under quarantine because of that. A ministry 
spokeswoman, Lusine Martirosian, said on Friday that none of them has tested 
positive for the virus.

The ministry, which runs Armenia’s penitentiary system, maintains that none of 
the infected guards had come into contact with prison inmates.

Martirosian stood by its earlier assurances that authorities are doing their 
best to prevent coronavirus cases among prisoners. She said the precautionary 
measures include regular monitoring of their health condition and a ban on 
visits from their relatives and friends imposed on March 13.

Kocharian, 65, as well as his former chief of staff and two retired army 
generals went on trial last year on coup charges mostly stemming from the 2008 
post-election unrest in Yerevan. The ex-president, who ruled Armenia from 
1998-2008, was also charged with bribe-taking a year ago. He rejects all 
accusations as politically motivated.

The judge presiding over the high-profile trial, Anna Danibekian, has repeatedly 
refused to free Kocharian pending a verdict in the case.

Danibekian was due to consider a written appeal for his release, signed by three 
former Armenian prime ministers, during a court hearing scheduled for March 17. 
The hearing was postponed because of her illness. It is still not clear when the 
trial will resume.




Armenian Authorities Expect Near-Zero Growth In 2020

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia -- Police officers enforcing a coronavirus lockdown check cars leaving 
Yerevan, April 1, 2020.

Economic growth in Armenia will practically grind to a halt this year due to the 
coronavirus pandemic, Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian said on Friday.

The Armenian economy grew by 7.6 percent last year and continued to expand 
robustly in the first two months of this year. However, the situation changed 
dramatically last month as the government put the country under lockdown to 
fight against the spread of coronavirus. With the number of coronavirus cases 
continuing to rise, the economic shutdown is expected to continue in the weeks 
ahead.

In a report released earlier this week, the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) 
forecast a 0.7 percent GDP growth rate for 2020.

Khachatrian agreed with this projection. “This year our economic indicators will 
be substantially down from what was forecast early this year,” he told a news 
conference.

The minister argued that the Armenian economy will also be affected by 
coronavirus-related economic disruptions in other countries and Russia in 
particular. Russia is Armenia’s main export market and the principal sources of 
remittances from Armenians working abroad.


Armenia -- Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian at a news conference in Yerevan, 
April 4, 2020.

Khachatrian insisted at the same time that Armenia will quickly recover once the 
global health crisis is over. “Despite the difficulties of 2020 we will quickly 
restore our economic activity and potential,” he said.

The CBA report says that economic growth in the country will accelerate to 7.2 
percent already in 2021.

The Armenian government approved last week a multimillion-dollar stimulus 
package designed to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic on 
businesses and ordinary people. The plan makes most Armenian firms as well as 
farmers eligible for financial assistance or credit subsidies.

In particular, creditworthy firms and individual entrepreneurs will receive 
grants worth $500 million ($1 million) if they pledge to use that money to pay 
their workers’ wages, buy equipment or raw materials or pay taxes. The scheme 
will not apply to Armenian banks, insurance companies and casinos. The 
government will instead subsidize the banks to provide cheap credit to farmers 
across the country.




World Bank To Also Help Armenia Fight Coronavirus


Armenia -- An ambulance leaves the Nork Infectious Disease Hospital, Yerevan, 
March 20, 2020.

The World Bank said on Friday that it will give Armenia $3 million to acquire 
medical equipment and supplies needed for containing the spread of coronavirus 
in the country.

The bank said nearly half of the assistance requested by the Armenian Ministry 
of Health will be spent on buying 50 lung ventilation devices used for 
lifesaving treatment of people infected with coronavirus. The ministry will also 
obtain protective personal equipment for healthcare workers, it said in a 
statement.

“The equipment will be procured directly through United Nations agencies’ supply 
channels in view of the current constraints for these types of medical emergency 
equipment in the global market,” read the statement.

“I would like to recognize the unprecedented dedication of health professionals 
in Armenia to protect the people,” it quoted Sylvie Bossoutrot, the head of the 
World Bank office in Yerevan, as saying.

“I would also like to strongly encourage each citizen of Armenia to strictly 
abide by the requirements of these emergency times and observe social distancing 
and isolation measures aimed at minimizing the impact of the pandemic,” added 
Bossoutrot.

The World Bank, which is Armenia’s number one foreign lender, also expressed 
readiness to provide additional coronavirus-related assistance to Yerevan. It 
would be provided at the expense of other projects which were due to be financed 
in Armenia by the Washington-based development bank.

The announcement came the day after the European Union promised 51 million euros 
($55 million) in assistance designed to help the Armenian government deal with 
not only the coronavirus epidemic but also its severe socioeconomic consequences.

The United States allocated last week more than $1 million in similar aid to 
Armenia. The South Caucasus state has also received medical supplies from Russia 
and China.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Friday morning that the total number 
of coronavirus cases in the country rose by over 10 percent to 736 in the past 
24 hours. According to the ministry, three more people died of COVID-19 on 
Thursday, raising to 7 the national death toll from the virus.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 


You may also like

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/03/2020

                                        Friday, April 3, 2020

Kocharian Discharged From Hospital

        • Naira Bulghadarian
        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian arrives for a court hearing, 
Yerevan, February 18, 2020.

Robert Kocharian, Armenia’s former president standing trial on coup charges, was 
taken back to prison on Friday after spending more than three weeks in hospital.

Kocharian was taken to the Erebuni Medical Center in Yerevan on March 9. His 
spokesman said at the time that he is suffering from blood pressure fluctuations 
and needs a thorough medical examination.

According to one of Kocharian’s lawyers, Hovannes Khudoyan, Erebuni’s doctors 
have improved the ex-president’s condition but believe that he needs to undergo 
further treatment and remain under medical surveillance.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Khudoyan claimed that his client will 
risk being infected with coronavirus at Yerevan’s Kentron prison where he has 
been kept, on and off, since July 2018. This is another reason why Kocharian, 
who already underwent surgery in another hospital last year, should be released 
from custody, said the lawyer.

Khudoyan noted in that regard five members of the administration of another 
Yerevan prison, Vartashen, tested positive for coronavirus this week.

The Armenian Justice Ministry reported on Thursday that 28 other prison guards 
at Vartashen were placed under quarantine because of that. A ministry 
spokeswoman, Lusine Martirosian, said on Friday that none of them has tested 
positive for the virus.

The ministry, which runs Armenia’s penitentiary system, maintains that none of 
the infected guards had come into contact with prison inmates.

Martirosian stood by its earlier assurances that authorities are doing their 
best to prevent coronavirus cases among prisoners. She said the precautionary 
measures include regular monitoring of their health condition and a ban on 
visits from their relatives and friends imposed on March 13.

Kocharian, 65, as well as his former chief of staff and two retired army 
generals went on trial last year on coup charges mostly stemming from the 2008 
post-election unrest in Yerevan. The ex-president, who ruled Armenia from 
1998-2008, was also charged with bribe-taking a year ago. He rejects all 
accusations as politically motivated.

The judge presiding over the high-profile trial, Anna Danibekian, has repeatedly 
refused to free Kocharian pending a verdict in the case.

Danibekian was due to consider a written appeal for his release, signed by three 
former Armenian prime ministers, during a court hearing scheduled for March 17. 
The hearing was postponed because of her illness. It is still not clear when the 
trial will resume.




Armenian Authorities Expect Near-Zero Growth In 2020

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia -- Police officers enforcing a coronavirus lockdown check cars leaving 
Yerevan, April 1, 2020.

Economic growth in Armenia will practically grind to a halt this year due to the 
coronavirus pandemic, Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian said on Friday.

The Armenian economy grew by 7.6 percent last year and continued to expand 
robustly in the first two months of this year. However, the situation changed 
dramatically last month as the government put the country under lockdown to 
fight against the spread of coronavirus. With the number of coronavirus cases 
continuing to rise, the economic shutdown is expected to continue in the weeks 
ahead.

In a report released earlier this week, the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) 
forecast a 0.7 percent GDP growth rate for 2020.

Khachatrian agreed with this projection. “This year our economic indicators will 
be substantially down from what was forecast early this year,” he told a news 
conference.

The minister argued that the Armenian economy will also be affected by 
coronavirus-related economic disruptions in other countries and Russia in 
particular. Russia is Armenia’s main export market and the principal sources of 
remittances from Armenians working abroad.


Armenia -- Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian at a news conference in Yerevan, 
April 4, 2020.

Khachatrian insisted at the same time that Armenia will quickly recover once the 
global health crisis is over. “Despite the difficulties of 2020 we will quickly 
restore our economic activity and potential,” he said.

The CBA report says that economic growth in the country will accelerate to 7.2 
percent already in 2021.

The Armenian government approved last week a multimillion-dollar stimulus 
package designed to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic on 
businesses and ordinary people. The plan makes most Armenian firms as well as 
farmers eligible for financial assistance or credit subsidies.

In particular, creditworthy firms and individual entrepreneurs will receive 
grants worth $500 million ($1 million) if they pledge to use that money to pay 
their workers’ wages, buy equipment or raw materials or pay taxes. The scheme 
will not apply to Armenian banks, insurance companies and casinos. The 
government will instead subsidize the banks to provide cheap credit to farmers 
across the country.




World Bank To Also Help Armenia Fight Coronavirus


Armenia -- An ambulance leaves the Nork Infectious Disease Hospital, Yerevan, 
March 20, 2020.

The World Bank said on Friday that it will give Armenia $3 million to acquire 
medical equipment and supplies needed for containing the spread of coronavirus 
in the country.

The bank said nearly half of the assistance requested by the Armenian Ministry 
of Health will be spent on buying 50 lung ventilation devices used for 
lifesaving treatment of people infected with coronavirus. The ministry will also 
obtain protective personal equipment for healthcare workers, it said in a 
statement.

“The equipment will be procured directly through United Nations agencies’ supply 
channels in view of the current constraints for these types of medical emergency 
equipment in the global market,” read the statement.

“I would like to recognize the unprecedented dedication of health professionals 
in Armenia to protect the people,” it quoted Sylvie Bossoutrot, the head of the 
World Bank office in Yerevan, as saying.

“I would also like to strongly encourage each citizen of Armenia to strictly 
abide by the requirements of these emergency times and observe social distancing 
and isolation measures aimed at minimizing the impact of the pandemic,” added 
Bossoutrot.

The World Bank, which is Armenia’s number one foreign lender, also expressed 
readiness to provide additional coronavirus-related assistance to Yerevan. It 
would be provided at the expense of other projects which were due to be financed 
in Armenia by the Washington-based development bank.

The announcement came the day after the European Union promised 51 million euros 
($55 million) in assistance designed to help the Armenian government deal with 
not only the coronavirus epidemic but also its severe socioeconomic consequences.

The United States allocated last week more than $1 million in similar aid to 
Armenia. The South Caucasus state has also received medical supplies from Russia 
and China.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Friday morning that the total number 
of coronavirus cases in the country rose by over 10 percent to 736 in the past 
24 hours. According to the ministry, three more people died of COVID-19 on 
Thursday, raising to 7 the national death toll from the virus.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 


You may also like